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Mar 07 The Rare Find

By John Kessel | Oct. 26, 2011, 6:43 p.m. (ET)

I just finished one of those books that I feel all readers of this Growing the Game Together blog should also take the time to read. Then re-read. Long ago, then US Olympic team coach Terry Liskevych, told me of a study on talent, done with the National Football League general managers at that time. As I recall it now, they were asked what was the one thing an NFL team needed to win the Super Bowl. Since I work to teach socratically, I then ask coaches what they think the NFL GMs said. Answers such as “Communication…” and “Teamwork…” and many others pour in, but what over 25 of the 32 NFL GMs said was “Talent.”

One of my favorite single sentence principles from the science of motor learning is that “initial ability does not relate to final ability.” So the inside cover jacket of The Rare Find – Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else reads: One of the nation’s biggest music labels briefly signed Taylor Swift to a contract but let her go because she did not seem worth more than $15,000 a year. At least four book publishers passed on the first Harry Potter novel rather than pay J.K Rowling a $5,000 advance. And the same pattern happens in nearly every business. So you know you are in for a treat before you open the book to the table of contents.

And when you do flip a few pages to the Table of Contents you will read…

Sand, Sweat and Character….Talent That Shouts…Talent That Whispers…Decoding The Jagged Resume…Where Insights Are Born…What Can Go Right?...Lottery Tickets…When To Say No…Picking The Boss…Fitting Pieces Together. So many good chapters, I can’t tell you what I found most important, but I can say that in the book, resilience struck a chord, along with curiosity and self-reliance….

See this drawing a friend sent of “Success...”

This is why we need resilience in our sport. Every point ends in an error, not by a team, but most often by a single player basically. It is the player who comes back, point after point, no matter how many errors, but learning from those mistakes, that will reach the top. I wrote about this back in my blog titled “Creating and Training Resilient Athletes,” and it is even truer today.

http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2011/February/07/Creating-and-Training-Resilient-Athletes.aspx

The most important coach and club help based chapter is called “Auditions That Work.” This single chapter alone is worth the price of the book for USAV junior clubs and the college coaches who are looking for the wheat in the chaff of tournament play. While I loved the line “Typically, scouting these tournaments is a group exercise in recalibration rather than a solo journey of discovery…” I am going to excerpt one of the most important paragraphs in the book, IMHO…

Ask audition masters what they are hunting for, and the deepest answers involve subjects’ character. Regardless of differences in the exact ways that talent is expressed, each domain’s underlying quests are strikingly similar: Who tries hard? Who prepares well? Who recovers quickly and calmly from a setback? Who works well with others? Who can size up a turbulent situation and come up with a plan? Or, taken from the other direction, which people cut corners? Who turns brittle under pressure? Who is clueless about group dynamics? Who ultimately doesn’t care?

There is one book on my desk. Small, just 80 pages. It is by Princeton philosophy professor Harry Frankfurt called On ***. This nearly 80 year old prof writes how come people fake their way thru moments and even life, and society tolerates such, despite the harm. What Anders does is shares how this book came to be, indeed, The Rare Find, is also perhaps the best example of the “power of story” that I have read in years.

Rather than say more, I will let Dan Coyle, author of The Talent Code (and remember GTG readers..you MUST bookmark his website… www.thetalentcode.com ) give the closing. “How do you find brilliant performers? The first step is to read this remarkable, groundbreaking, profoundly useful book- which is not so much a book as a detailed map of the newly revealed landscape of modern talent hunting. Quite simply, the best book on the subject I’ve ever read….”

George Anders has put a lot of the topics about this all in one convenient book, that belongs on the shelf of every USA Volleyball club director. Go get it, as I am also sure, in the vein of that which you teach you learn…you also will enhance your performance as a coach, parent and player, on and off the court.

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